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Open AccessArticle

Dewatering of Mine Tailings Slurries Using Superabsorbent Polymers (SAPs) Reclaimed from Industrial Reject of Baby Diapers: A Preliminary Study

Research Institute of Mines and Environment, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), 445 Boul. de l’Université, Rouyn-Noranda, QC J9X 5E4, Canada
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Some of the results in this article had been presented at the 70th Canadian Geotechnical Conference, GeoOttawa, Canada.
Minerals 2019, 9(12), 785; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9120785
Received: 27 October 2019 / Revised: 6 December 2019 / Accepted: 9 December 2019 / Published: 13 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Mineralogy and Biogeochemistry)
Traditional deposition of tailings slurry in a tailings storage facility (TSF) can create risks of dike failure. In order to minimize these risks and slurry spillage, the surface deposition technique of densified tailings (DT) through dewatering of the slurry has emerged. The DT technique has the potential to maximize water reuse, improve the shear strength of surface tailings, and reduce the ecological footprint of TSF. The consistency of DT covers a continuum ranging from thickened state, to paste state, to dry state. Despite its efficiency and economic feasibility, DT densification using thickeners sometimes proves unable to achieve the design target solids mass concentration (Cw%). Hence, the use of superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) seems to represent a promising alternative, owing to their higher water absorbent capacity. In this paper, superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) reclaimed from industrial reject of baby diapers (Na-polyacrylates) are explored as a promising alternative to mine tailings slurries dewatering. To this end, laboratory-scale dewatering tests have been performed using two grades of Na-polyacrylate SAPs (grade 1 SAP = SAG-A06P coarse-grained, and grade 2 = SAG-M01P-100 medium-grained) for the tailings slurries densification. A higher water absorbency (or swelling capacity) was observed using the coarser SAPs (SAG-A06P) compared to the finer SAPs (SAG-M01P-100). The preliminary results showed that a SAP volume dosage in the range 10–13 kg of SAP/m3 of slurry allowed achieving a final solids mass concentration (Cw%_final) ≥ 70%, despite the occurrence of gel-blocking phenomenon. View Full-Text
Keywords: tailings storage facility (TSF); tailings slurry; tailings dewatering; superabsorbent polymers; industrial reject baby diapers; thickened tailings; paste tailings; filtered tailings tailings storage facility (TSF); tailings slurry; tailings dewatering; superabsorbent polymers; industrial reject baby diapers; thickened tailings; paste tailings; filtered tailings
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sahi, A.; El Mahboub, K.; Belem, T.; Maqsoud, A.; Mbonimpa, M. Dewatering of Mine Tailings Slurries Using Superabsorbent Polymers (SAPs) Reclaimed from Industrial Reject of Baby Diapers: A Preliminary Study. Minerals 2019, 9, 785.

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